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Last Updated : Oct 10, 2018 08:53 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

In dry state of Gujarat, liquor cos battle over non-alcoholic drinks: Report

Along with UB, London Pilsner and Heineken beer also plan to launch a slew of zero-alcohol beer in Gujarat as well as elsewhere

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India’s two largest beer makers Heineken-controlled United Breweries and Anheuser-Busch InBev will soon be in a battle over non-alcoholic drinks in the dry state of Gujarat, The Economic Times reported.

The two brewers will soon enter Gujarat, where making, selling and drinking alcohol is banned since 1960, with non-alcoholic beer. UB will foray into the state with non-alcoholic beer Kingfisher Radler this week, and AB InBev is expected to join the race in a couple of months.

"Gujarat is an opportunity market for this product as it’s a state with no access to alcoholic drinks," Ramesh Visvanathan, Chief New Business Officer at UB, told the paper. UB has already test-launched Kingfisher Radler in Gujarat and Karnataka.

UB’s Kingfisher Radler is alcohol-free and is made of fresh barley malts and natural lemon juice.

Gujarat is one of the largest non-alcoholic beer markets in the country, dominated by drinks sold by traders and importers. "The current products in the market are imported, expensive, sparsely distributed and not supported. Above all, they have a beer taste which people don’t want," Visvanathan said.

Along with UB, London Pilsner and Heineken beer, also plan to launch a slew of zero-alcohol beer in Gujarat as well as elsewhere, the report said.

The Belgium-headquartered brewer firm plans to launch beer in the non-alcoholic beer segment 'in the coming months', Ben Verhaert, President – India at AB InBev, told the paper.

"We see non-alcoholic beer as an opportunity for the beer category to offer choice in India, which is the second largest consumer base in the world, where the level of abstinence is high for various reasons," Verhaert told the paper, adding that firm intends to shape the category by making it a more inclusive place for consumers with diverse choices and preferences.

AB InBev, which sells Budweiser, Hoegaarden and Beck’s eyes 20 percent of total global sales from such products by 2025 from 8 percent at present.

According to the report, even beer pub chains are looking to enter Gujarat. Beer Cafe will open outlets in the state if the market gets more than a dozen non-alcoholic beer brands, Rahul Singh, founder of Beer Cafe, told the paper.

"Gujarat is one of the largest markets for food and beverages, and beer is the second largest packaged beverage in India," Singh said.

While beer contains 1.2-8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), non-alcoholic beer mostly has 0.05 percent ABV or below.
First Published on Oct 10, 2018 11:08 am
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